[Reflection 2] Learning through Projects

:globe_with_meridians: Italiano, Español, Português, 日本語, العربية, Türkçe

Think about this week’s video, readings, activity or discussions on learning through projects.

What is an idea, or quote, question, word…
that you have found particularly intriguing, or provoking, inspiring…
and how do you relate to it as a learner, or as an educator, designer, human being?

Choose your own reflection prompt, and share your thoughts replying to this post!

I hope to be intrigued, provoked, and inspired again this week, but I’d like to share a conversation I had with Loni Bergqvist almost a year ago. This was very impactful to me for a number of reasons, but the biggest one was that she helped me realize how many more like minded educators are out there (which eventually led me here). Loni and I both agreed that at the heart of great project based learning was giving kids time and space to “make cool shit.” The real learning comes with it: Loni Bergqvist on LinkedIn: #PBL #projectbasedlearning #teaching | 10 comments

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Teaching basic concepts and then work the project versus work on the project and learn those concepts while working on it… I still find myself veering towards the former when teaching at schools.

If have recently been told by a teacher at a middle school where I give coding and robotics lesson “…but this is school”. I asked the teacher what she meant by this statement and she made it clear that she was not satisfied because there was too much “casino” in my class. Casino in an Italian word for “mess”, “noise” or “disruption”.

The aim at the school is always to first teach basic concepts, then give students a project to complete with specific measurables that can then be graded.

At summer coding camps on the other hand, there is more freedom to allow students learn concepts while they are doing. There are no grades to be given, there are fewer time constraints and there is no problem if there is a bit of a “casino”. It’s all about play and having fun. Thank goodness for summer camps! :grin:


I feel the same as you. I think that the problem with regulated education is that, that it has too many rules to follow.
To be able to reach the conclusions dictated by the curriculum with freedom of action (without guides) time is needed, time that you do not have in regular education.
It is something that I would love to be able to delve into and see a little light about it.


What is most intriguing to me at present is the idea of learning through projects. I completely understand the rationale, and I can certainly attest to my own growth and development through projects. But I am now thinking that I would like to frame my college courses as projects for my students. As in, the whole course is a project. When I design my courses, they feel like projects to me. I wonder how that might shift my students thinking from, “What do I need to get the A?” to “What do I want this project to be?”


I am amazed by how Scratch can, in fact, be an emulation of Lego bricks. And how it can help students become programmers, creator, and not only consumers.
I am definitively sure that I will start applying these tools, including the Lego, in my classes. Happily, I made some space for us to have some time to explore other topics and tools apart from the IB MYP Design requirements. I am eager to play!


La frase che mi ha colpito del video è stata quella in cui affermava che senza un o scopo è difficile imparare. Vero! Soprattutto quando si propongono
concetti o strategie astratti che poi nella vita futura di un bambino non saranno evidenti o peggio inutili. I programmi ministeriali in Italia sono spesso una gabbia di contenuti estranei al mondo reale .


So tricky isn’t it… shift from grades to actual learning outcomes… the ambiguity and self-direction can be so dang difficult. I had to have a learning contract for my outdoor experiential ed course and set out to learn 30 knots (still struggle with reasonable goals) and felt terrible when I learned 4.
How can a series of mini-projects tie into one culminating project?


I wonder where more learning happens? It’s a tricky balance to give what kids need in a timely fashion when there are many projects going on and my expertise is developing… yay tutorials and screencasts and peer support! I also love cumulative skill and knowledge over time.

I love project learning, and am not where I want to be yet, but iteration helps.


How to overcome lack-of-project-confidence?

When being asked to engage with or come up with a project, I immediately thought “but will that be good enough to share? Is my project actually a project?”. And that thought obviously doesn’t stimulate creativity. Is this a reflection that is inherent to my personal thinking, or is it triggered by my (educational) experiences that whatever you do must achieve something, must be clear, must be of high value, must be worth the “marks” you might be receiving?

When reflecting a bit more, I realised that I have lots of small projects, often based on a need I experience combined with a will to find out how something works, mostly in the field of gardening, needle work and cooking. I don’t live in my home country and move every 3-4 years. That creates needs: I feel like sour dough bread, but can’t buy it. I want to avoid mosquitoes in my house? I crave Belgian endives… Each of those are projects I engage with.

Are these valuable enough to share? Yes!

I would be interested to hear if these reflections, this lack of confidence in presenting projects, is something others recognise? How do you feel? What do you think?


@Lieve I can identify with this thought process as well. I don’t know if I always see things as “projects”, and I definitely don’t always think they’re good enough to share. However, if the goal is learning through trial & is continually spiraling toward knowledge, then that makes it good enough.

I have had a goal of trying to find new & innovative ways to reach students to help engage them more in the learning process & have sought out info on eSports as well as coding & drones. If we could show students that there’s potential application later in life & tie it in with some of our core curriculum, what would that do for student learning? I can only assume that it would increase student learning, but getting buy-in from teachers & stakeholders is yet another obstacle to overcome, not to mention funding.

I think we have some support for this type of learning, but not in our legislature. Things are mostly data driven & if they aren’t able to quantify this type of learning, I doubt we will be truly successful until there’s a mind shift on their part.


Mis niños de 3ro y 4to medio estaban trabajando en PSEINT un desafío del helado, tenían que hacer una programación que permitiera calcular el precio de helados de 1, 2 y 3 bolitas y luego sumar toppings. Al terminar sus programaciones, los desafié a traspasar esas programaciones a scratch y agregarle gráficas, y me sorprendieron los resultados.
Tratando de limpiar las imágenes descubrieron pisklr X y crearon personajes en piskel app, o entendieron que no necesariamente eran helados, podía ser un “construye tu personaje lego.” Otros complejizaron la programación dando vuelto, ha sido increíble ver las diferentes formas de resolver el desafío. Al final del mismo proyecto aprendieron 2 aplicaciones más buscando soluciones, me inspiran sus búsquedas.


@Derval thankyou for teaching me this word - casino : ) here we often say ‘Messy is Beautiful!’ :heart_eyes:


Using 4P in the traditional classes I present in university is allways a question… I use teams that need to solve projects in all my classes, but it is hard to create really playfull and passionate activities to all students ever.
And, sometimes, the students ask for tradiotional classes: once, a student make a criticize my class because I am not doing what a teacher should do (traditional teaching at blackboard)


Well after watch & read the activity we did this week, I’ve learned many kind of new thoughts in being more creative as an educator to spread to my students. Also after being in one session with you guys make me understand our different experience in teaching our students, that gives me a new thoughts on how I should take care my students as well.

Oh, I definitely share these questions, this need to have some sort of measurable outcome, and the insecurity related to that… And I guess that’s something that haunts also parents reluctant to project-based learning. But yes, everyday life is full of beautiful small projects like those you mention :smile:

LCL might be sort of my cure against this feeling, I guess :blue_heart:


From Chapter 2 of Lifelong Kindergarten:
“Today, everyone needs to be a risk-taker, a doer, a maker of things—not
necessarily to bend the arc of history, but to bend the arcs of their own lives.”

This quote really stuck with me especially through my lens as an educator. Do students have opportunities in school to be risk-takers, doers, and makers? We are so comfortable being consumers that we overlook the thrill of creation. Being part of the digital fabrication ecosystem in Chattanooga, I often look at items in stores…and used to think “I’d buy that” and now I think “I could make that”. Being creative does take a risk and acceptance of failure as part of the process. So, how can we normalize this kind of mindset in our students and educators?


I have always loved the quote “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I think in this space, I might even extend it to “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of…something.” I find that internally-and with my students and own kids, the fear of not creating something awesome is a barrier and deterrent to being willing to risk creating anything. I know as a parent and teacher it can be a delicate balance to encourage productivity and some product while also holding back on feedback or any negative opinions that might undermine the creative process.

On a similar note, I LOVE Ron Berger’s Austin’s Butterfly video (Austin's Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work on Vimeo ) which shows kids giving feedback on a butterfly drawing. I find this exercise works to help prepare any group-from kids to adults with feedback and the creative process,


As a child, I struggled finding purpose in learning math through rote.
The rules were rigid, linear, and the “building blocks” never really materialized, or produced joy when solving the puzzles.

Scratch as an interactive training tool far better affords the user a playground to embrace the spiral of learning. It also conveniently “shows your work.”

The optional reading introduces constructivist learning and the term “bricolage,” (construction from a variety of sources). This, along with catchy phrases like “traveling tinker” and “kitchen math,” resonated with me as an artist/designer.

Quote: “For the confirmed bricoleur, formal methods are on tap, not on top.”

Reinforces the idea of a breath of knowledge and interests - reminded me of the saying:
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”


After watching the video and using the Scratch for a while, I find the Creative Learning Spiral is very useful. With Creative Learning Spiral, I’ve imagining how to improving project I created or a new ideas. From there, I realizing them using Scratch or other programming language. I am really excited to share this Creative Learning Spiral to other people because it can be used for all types of project. I also gained some new thoughts to be more creative when working with other people as well.